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Arts and Enrichment


Swimmers and Skippers


Local Water Sports for the Whole Family



sailboatpic
June 01, 2010
If your Kids haven't broken out their swimsuits yet, what's the hold up? It's summer and the area is teeming with fantastic water activities your children won't want to miss. So grab your sunscreen, swimsuit and kids—it's time to get wet!

A life skill that is just plain fun.

Parents of small children or kids who have spent little time around water should run—not walk—to swim lessons. It's a skill that can keep them healthy throughout their lives. It could also be lifesaving, but mostly it's fun.

Don't know where to take a lesson? There are tons of places, but when in doubt, why not choose the world-renowned IUPUI Natatorium? No pressure on your kids, but there have been 101 American Records and 15 World Records set in the pool to date.

The downtown Indianapolis facility offers a great array of swim lessons for people 6 months through adult, including the Swim America program. This learn-to-swim program advances children through 10 progressive skill levels. The students begin with introductory skills, such as floating, and swim their way through the ranks to know all competitive strokes, turns, dives and water safety skills. Offered year round, this program involves eight classes per session.

Megan Sobecki, the facility's aquatic program coordinator and a Masters YMCA National Champion, says "The kids in our program learn not just how to float, but how to use their body in the water to keep them afloat. We teach them water safety and why it is important to know water safety." She adds that many of the kids in the Swim America program progress through all 10 levels and join the facility's swim team known as the Indy Dolphins.

Of note, the IUPUI Natatorium opens all of its classes to persons with special needs and offers a multiple sclerosis group that meets once a week to work on movement.

Another top-notch swim club a little further north in Fishers is the Southeastern Swim Club. Like the IUPUI Natatorium, it provides opportunities for both the recreational- and competitive-minded. Some of its swimmers have even gone on to compete in Olympic trials.

At Southeastern Swim Club, kids as young as three can begin lessons—without mom—where they learn to swim along with two or three peers. Kick boards and noodles may be utilized during these lessons, but there are no flotation devices.

Parents should be warned that children bitten by the swimming bug may want to try out for the club's swim team, which consists of about 325 kids ages 5 through collegiate level. The club's team is well regarded for its quality staff and family-friendly atmosphere.

"When people are here, they are like family. We've had so many families stay with us over the course of the years that we've seen their kids grow up and are now seeing some alumni bring in their own kids," says Heather Street, director of recruitment with Southeast Swim Club and swim coach. She says several staff members are also alumni of the program.

The club's team provides a year-round opportunity to swim in a competitive setting. While there are no attendance requirements, the lowest-level team called Flying Fish can practice up to 3 times a week for an hour. "If twice a week is all they can do, then that's when they come. Competitions are up to them as well. They don't have to participate if they don't want to, but there is an expectation that they give a meet a try so they can understand why it is that they're training," explains Street. Older team members obviously have a larger time commitment with a workload of 6 to 9 workouts per week for high school students.

Wherever your child takes swim lessons, the goal is simply to get comfortable in the water and learn how to swim. Once they get that down, there's no telling how they will use their aquatic skills. Many will high tail it to the nearest water park; others will use their swimming expertise for other water sports. Whatever floats their boat you may say.

Sail away.

Area kids with basic swimming skills and a calling to discover their inner skippers may find their summer fun on a sailboat. The good news for them is that they can head either east or west of Indianapolis to find fun sailing experiences.

For instance, Eagle Creek Sailing Club, located on the Eagle Creek Reservoir, is hosting two one-week Junior Sailing School sessions this month for kids ages 10 to 18. Younger kids with previous sailing experience may be eligible to participate, as well.

Hezekiah Hickok, the safety and education director for Eagle Creek Sailing Club, says the sailing school gives many kids an opportunity to learn something they may not otherwise have opportunity to do. "We try to teach them as much as we can about sailing and we try to let them have as much fun as they can, too," he says.

The Junior Sailing School is in its ninth year and is open to members and nonmembers.

Across the city on the Geist Reservoir is the Indianapolis Sailing Club, which will also host weeklong summer camps throughout the summer. Called the Junior Training Program, these sessions are for kids 8 to 14. The camp teaches basic sailing techniques and water safety for beginners and racing technique and water safety for advanced sailors.

"It's a lot of fun and is something different than what a traditional summer camp is. Kids get to be on sailboats and the surrounding area is beautiful," says Michelle Sarber, junior sailing chairperson and camp director. Notably three of this summer's camp counselors, who are also Indianapolis Sailing Club members, recently competed in junior nationals at Marblehead, Mass., finishing eighth overall.

Sarber describes the sailing club as having a family atmosphere and encourages all kids with an interest in sailing to "come out this summer because they are going to learn so much and it truly is a unique experience they are not going to get anywhere else."

Go On, Get Wet

Swimming and sailing aren't the only water games in town, but they sure are great ways for kids to spend time this summer. So, what are you waiting for? Pull those swimsuits out of the drawers and get wet already! 


Carrie Bishop is a freelance writer and mother of two young sons, whose daily antics inspire her work and her life. Contact her at freelancewritercarrie@gmail.com.

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Tags: Enrichment, Kids, Local

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